URBANbuild is a design/build program in which teams of students take on the design and construction of prototypical homes for New Orleans’ neighborhoods. URBANbuild’s partners in the development of these homes have been a number of non-profit community partners such as Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans (NHS), the Make It Right Organization of New Orleans (MIR), and Harmony Neighborhood development. Work with these organizations has exposed the School to the needs of the city’s underprivileged families as well as to what is required for the revitalization of New Orleans’ urban fabric and neighborhoods.
The program is an educational collaboration of individuals, organizations, and businesses committed to revitalizing New Orleans’ rich cultural and architectural heritage. Neighborhoods are strengthened by the rebuilding of homes; allied professionals and educators come together for a common cause, and students develop as designers with a deep understanding and commitment to the urban environment.
Over the course of the past eight years, Tulane's URBANbuild program has realized a body of work in collaboration with a number of local community partners, vendors and material suppliers. Along this journey the program attempted to develop responsible housing prototypes with reliance upon understanding of the common cultural needs of the local environment, the limits of the regional workforce and a growing awareness of what is considered to be affordable. Throughout the work of recent years, many limitations have been discovered. Even in the face of these limitations, the program has produced habitable structures for families within some of the city‘s disadvantaged neighborhoods.